Con Report: Cleveland Concoction 2019

Cleveland ConCoction logo 2019

March means a return to one of my favorite events of the year: Cleveland ConCoction! This year, I took the Tesla on her first official road trip, which involved stopping at multiple supercharger stations. We had a blast, and I am officially never taking a long trip without navigate on autopilot ever again.

supercharger selfie

My car has a moon roof. It is covered in snow.

FRIDAY

I left very early on a snowy Friday morning to accommodate the slightly longer time the trip would take for charging stops and any weather-related road issues. However, I was able to end the drive with a leisurely lunch at the requisite Steak n’ Shake visit while the car pulled a final charge to last through the weekend. After checking in to the hotel and setting up my books in Author’s Alley, I was just in time for my first panel of the weekend.

At this point I can probably do the panel on genres and genre-blending while half-asleep (and I’m pretty sure that I actually have), but it’s always fun to see what new insights my fellow panelists have and answer the often unique questions from the audience.

Afterward, I enjoyed a quiet dinner catching up with friends and excellent fellow authors Shannon Eichorn and K.M. Herkes. Once I delivered them to their evening panels, I also spent some quality time at the hotel bar with another fabulous author, Sara Dobie Bauer. The day finally caught up with me, and I crashed early.

SATURDAY

Despite my con report’s promise of getting three Dog Star Books authors together at one event, it was all a lie. Unfortunately, K.W. Taylor and Matt Betts both experienced health issues that prevented their attendance, which meant I was a poor replacement. In this case, it meant I moderated a panel on the mistakes beginning authors make on Saturday morning for Matt. We discussed issues authors face in both writing and the publishing industry, including sharing some of our own mistakes. My major take-away for that panel is always to tell the audience one thing: “Don’t be a jerk.”

I spent late morning and early afternoon hanging out in Author’s Alley, chatting with readers and writers alike. After a late lunch, it was time for my weekend reading! The audience enjoyed the first scene from Steel Time, and then it was back to Author’s Alley to sign books.

After a hasty dinner of cake in the con suite, it was time for the first highlight of my evening. Along with some of the other authors in attendance, I was invited to participate in a special episode of Prompt Joust, a web show that pushes storytelling to the limits. I dug deep for my improv comedy experience from college, and while I knew I wouldn’t make it to the final round based on the “king of the hill” competition style, I knew I had the opportunity to take out show host Marcus V. Calvert in the first round — so I did. /evil laugh

I closed out the night by moderating a panel on time travel in fiction and on screen, which was way too science-filled for my sleepy brain to handle, but I think we muddled through. Luckily, I caught my second wind in time for the late-night “author soiree,” in which I enjoyed homemade mead (compliments of the Very Vocal Viking) and lots of laughter with friends.

SUNDAY

I did not have anything official on the schedule for the last day of the convention, but due to a scheduling mix-up, I landed on a panel on urban fantasy! We had a lovely discussion about how romance, mystery, and horror can all be elements to the genre, and what reader expectations are (and how to break them).

Afterward, we wrangled a certain demographic of attending authors to take a photo. Gee, what did we all have in common?

blue hair authors

In what’s become a ConCoction tradition, I enjoyed a late lunch with a group of friends, and then I sent everyone on their way! Due to the long drive, I wasn’t heading home until Monday. Good thing, too, because the snow had started.

I closed out the evening enjoying a good book and watching the snow fall from my hotel room. It was a little creepy to realize that I was now one of very few guests in a giant conference hotel, but I passed out anyway loved my quiet time.

MONDAY

The snow was over by the morning, so I had a safe but COLD drive home to Maryland.

I can’t wait to do it all again next year!


ConCoction 2019 haul.JPG

Cleveland Concoction 2019 Schedule

Cleveland ConCoction logo 2019

I’m excited to return to one of my favorite annual events this weekend! I’ll be in Cleveland, Ohio, for Concoction 2019. The spouse is jealous because I’m taking the Tesla for it’s first-ever road trip, as in, I will have to stop at least once each way to recharge at a supercharger stop. But once I get there, I’ll be geeking out over my own pursuits. Check out my full schedule below. Continue reading

Con Report: Farpoint 2019

Farpoint2

Growing up as a military brat, I always had this sense that once I left a place, I would never be back. While looking for a house in the Baltimore area before sixth grade, my family briefly stayed at a hotel, the Hunt Valley Inn. Therefor, it’s always a bit bizarre to be back there as an adult in a completely different context, such as for a convention.

That background aside, I had an amazing weekend at my second Farpoint. Continue reading

Farpoint 2019 Schedule

Farpoint2

I’m thrilled to return to Farpoint 26 next weekend for my second year! I had a blast last year and made some excellent friends. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with them and other local fans. Here’s where you can find me on the official schedule:

Friday

  • 10 PM: Farpoint Book Fair

Saturday

  • 10 AM: Alternate History: Creating Stories By Changing the Past (presentation)
    • Come learn about the alternate history genre and then create a few alternate histories of your own in this interactive presentation!
  • 12 PM: Autograph Session
    • With Brian Koscienski
  • 3 PM: Reading
    • With Steven H. Wilson and Michael Critzer

Sunday

  • 12 PM: Reading
    • With T. Eric Bakutis
  • 1 PM: Autograph Session
    • With Peter David (!!!!)
  • 3 PM: I Have Written a Book: Now What (panel)
    • With Keith R.A. DeCandido, Don Sakers, and Gregory A. Wilson

As usual, I’m more than happy to hang out with people anytime I’m not officially scheduled, whether for food, a drink, or just a chat. The best way to reach me during the convention is a direct message via Facebook or Twitter.

Until then, I’ll be over here freaking out that I’m sharing an autograph session with my favorite Star Trek writer…

Con Report: ChessieCon 2018

chessielogoGoing to a convention after a major holiday would be pretty crazy, but luckily this convention is local, chill, and a chance to visit with friends. So it’s easy to treat it as an extension of the holiday, and I had a lovely time at ChessieCon this year.

FRIDAY

Friday started with how all days after Thanksgiving should start, with a massive lunch of leftovers. We ate at my mother-in-law’s house, where my parents also dropped by, so by the time I headed home to prepare for the convention, pretty much no NaNoWriMo writing got done. I was not super upset about that. Instead, I made sure my con bags were sorted and that I had questions prepared for the panel I was moderating on Saturday afternoon. Even though my first scheduled event was not until 9:15 that night, I headed up to Baltimore around 5 PM so that I had time to greet friends. Continue reading

Con Report: World Fantasy 2018

World Fantasy 2018 banner

When a professional convention in your field is literally in your back yard (or at least 2 blocks away from where you used to work for 12 years), there’s really no excuse not to go. And I’m so glad that I attended World Fantasy 2018 in Baltimore, MD!

THURSDAY

I worked from home on Thursday morning, and then my mother-in-law was nice enough to drive me up to the convention hotel, where I stayed for the weekend. I could have commuted, but sharing a room was literally the same cost as I would have paid in parking fees over the course of 4 days.

After checking in, a friend dragged me to a small workshop on using Tarot cards to help prompt story ideas. While I don’t disbelieve in using Tarot for more personal means, I adore the concept as a storytelling exercise.

Following that, my afternoon workshop on Working with Editors went well. Scott H. Andrews, of Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine, was a great presenter and very knowledgeable about the subject. I was pretty much there to speak from the novel perspective, and help wrangle one of the small Q&A groups we held with other editors — and I am totally okay with that!

I joined the three lovely ladies I shared a hotel room with for dinner at the Irish pub across the street. All of us are former students from Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction graduate program, but the best part of that is how many of those former students are now my friends and colleagues.  Continue reading

World Fantasy 2018 Schedule

World Fantasy 2018 bannerI’m very excited to attend World Fantasy this year! It’s in Baltimore, so I really have no excuse not to be there. I think it’ll be a great opportunity for me to start meeting agents BEFORE I have a novel to pitch to them (the UFO book, which gets written in 2020!), so it will be a more relaxed atmosphere for everyone involved.

As an added bonus, I’ll get to see so many writer friends from my grad school tribe and beyond, and I’m even on programming!

  • Thursday, 2 PM: Working with Editors
    • Workshop with limited space available
    • A broad discussion about editor interactions regarding short fiction and novels, including hiring developmental editors, finding sensitivity readers, submitting short fiction to magazines, sending queries for a novel to agents or publishers, and handling rewrites and line-edits. Plus a Q&A session with leading editors in the speculative fiction field today.
    • With Scott H. Andrews, Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine
  • Friday, 11 AM: Writing as Sanctuary
    • Panel: How does the art and/or exercise of writing provide sanctuary from the world. Can writing take you away from the external or is that always carried through to your work? #SanctuaryWriting
    • With Jacob Baugher, J.D. Blackrose, J.L. Gribble, Anna La Voie (M), and K. Ceres Wright
  • Friday, 8 PM: Mass Author Signing
  • Saturday, 10 PM: Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
  • Sunday, 11:30 AM: Individual Author Reading

I’m staying at the hotel in Baltimore, so I’ll be around all weekend if you want to hang out and chat or grab a meal/coffee/adult beverage. As usual, the best way to reach me during a convention is through a Facebook message or Twitter DM.